Signal-boosting: House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

Today was the cover reveal day for the US edition of Aliette de Bodard’s upcoming novel, House of Shattered Wings. I remember Aliette talking about this novel before it was the novel and I remember thinking–that is the novel you have to write. It’s wonderfully written, evocative and deep and the concept is mindblowing and original. As Aliette writes on her blog: A book about devastated Paris, fallen angels and the ruins of a once great House.

houseofshatterewings

From Aliette’s Blog:

“In the late Twentieth Century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians’ War left a trail of devastation in its wake. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.”

Jump to Aliette’s blog for more info on pre-orders and such.

On the road to recovery

A lot of things have happened since my last post on this blog. I am slowly but surely regaining strength and energy again. Not as quickly as I want to, but there is progress. I consider it a gift that I have a wonderful mental health carer and that social services considers my situation one where I am in need of more support. Recovery would have been slower than it already has been otherwise.

These past weeks, I’ve been working hard on the extended story set in the world of the Body Cartographer. I had originally intended this story to be one novella, but it’s grown far beyond the minimum length. So far, I’ve completed work on part one which is comprised of 17700 words. An immersive and cathartic experience. I had to laugh a bit because just this month I attended an event at the American Book Center featuring Jeff VanderMeer, Ann VanderMeer and Thomas Olde Heuvelt.

Jeff talked about the process of novel writing and how when he’s immersed in a novel, he’s so engaged with it that even food becomes an afterthought. At one point–close to the end of part one, I had to stop because it was time to prepare dinner. I opened the fridge and stared at emptiness. I had forgotten to pick up groceries and so I had nothing to cook. Thankfully, eldest son offered to go for groceries and that evening we had french fries for dinner.

Then there was the time I wrote a scene replete with food goodness. After writing it, I was so hungry, but we only had Chicken Tonight. At least it was warm and there was steamed rice, but I would have rather had the dish I was writing about. It happens.

After finishing part one, we went off to grab ice-cream and cake, and when I came home, it was to find a message from Jaroslav Olsa, who is the Czech Republic ambassador to the Philippines. Harinuo’s Love Song, which appears in Alternative Alamat, was picked by PLAV’s team of editors for translation and inclusion in an upcoming edition. To say I’m gobsmacked is an understatement. I mean, I’ve been working towards resuming work on the translation project, but I never dreamed I’d have work getting translated into another language. How cool is that? :)

This afternoon, I did a bit of tweeting after I came home from speaking at the International Women’s Day celebration held by an organization I do volunteer work for. It was a lovely celebration. I spoke about the challenges we face as migrant women in the Netherlands and the effect of being uprooted. That we exist in a structured society that is meant to favor status quo but we are not without means and it is possible for us to think of strategies that will allow us to grow and to thrive in this environment.

I’m struck by how the conversations we have around the structural challenges migrants face, mirror the conversations we have around the structural challenges that marginalized writers face. It’s not exactly the same, but these two things speak to each other and strategies that work within one structure could also work within the other. The important thing is to see which ones work best and to find the support we need to thrive and take hold of our dreams.

It’s also been made clear to me that in conversations around race, we often fail to consider nuance. That race is not a black and white conversation. It’s more complicated than that.

This week has been full of things that I need to digest and I don’t doubt that some of it will find its way into story. For the next two days, I’ll be taking a break before immersing myself again in the writing.

I am thankful for friends and for loved ones, for the kadkadua who continue to walk with me and who remind me of what it is that matters most.

Salamat.

**PS. I think nonny is a really cute word. It might show up in one of my works someday. ;-)

Writer’s Journey: doing the work

I have been silent for quite a while as I moved through the necessary steps towards full recovery. Sometimes, we have our hands so full with the business of trying to make it from one day to the next that we don’t have much energy to think of much else. I deeply appreciate the kadkadua, the friends and comrades who have sent me encouraging notes even when I had no strength to answer.

What follows are things that bubbled up as I worked on the columns that I want to see published next. Fellow traveler on the journey, this is for you too.

. . . who  know what it is to be afraid to speak because to speak is a matter of life or death.

… who know what it is to hunger or to be anxious about where the next day’s meal will come from.

…who know what it is like to turn over every coin as each coin spent means a balance between what is needful and what is less needful.

…who have not been cushioned by the luxury of wealth, not owning anything more than what your two hands can hold.

…who do not own the privilege of position or class.

…who have not been shielded by the color of your skin or gender or sexuality…

…who know what it is like to go to sleep praying that you will not wake to the sound of guns in the distance.

…who know to lock the doors at night because there is no safe place…there is no safe place…there is no safe place…

…who stubbornly remain vulnerable in the face of fear because there is no safe place…no safe place…no safe place…

…who know the cost of dissent, the price of resistance, the punishment for rendering criticism.

…who know what it’s like to always be judged based on the color of your skin, the flag to which you pledge allegiance, the country of your origin…(fill in the blank)

…who know what it is like to be reviled, rejected, judged, ridiculed, belittled, cast out, ignored…(choose your own synonym)…

…who know what it’s like to hunger for words…to fight over words…to want to own words…to chase after glimpses of story in whatever form because there are never enough words to speak the stories that have grown and grown and grown…

…who understand what it’s like to dream of one day being that adventurer, that star traveller, that explorer, the one who discovers, who charts, who lays claim, who takes hold of–planets, countries, kingdoms…becomes ambassador…becomes forger of peace…savior instead of saved…redeemer instead of redeemed…

…who reach out in anxiety…who having found voice speak tentatively…because you have never had that freedom…to speak…to speak without anxiety…to speak without fear…to render criticism and not be cut down or imprisoned or taxed or punished or sent into exile…

…Oh who have fought not to be silenced….and having won…struggle not to fall into silence…do not fall into silence…do not allow yourself to fall into silence…do not…do not…do not surrender…do not give way.

Speak on.

2014: updates and lessons learned on the journey

I have been rather quiet online as I’m going through a seasonal dip. It sometimes feels like I have to wrap what little energy I have around myself in order to make it through the day. My apologies for the radio silence.

2014 has been one of my most challenging years. I am thankful for those I’ve come to know this year. For true friends, for kadkadua, for comrades who walk beside me. I would not have been able to make it through without the presence of these dear ones.

I’ve started work on a new group of columns for Strange Horizons, the first of which was published a little while ago. Anyone interested in reading it can find it here. I also took part in the Smugglivus celebration over at The Booksmugglers. This is my look at 2014 and some of why I’m excited about 2015. I see movements towards nurture and positive change and that always heartens me.

I believe in a principle that recognizes how people who write and create art embrace vulnerability. I also believe that hardening ourselves is not the solution. I believe that it is to us to create the environment in which we want to create and if we create environments that support and nurture the vulnerable, we are allowing the creation of mindful work–we enable visionary and emergent work as we remember that the writer writes from a place of vulnerability.

This doesn’t mean that there is no room for criticism or dissent. I believe that criticism and dissent are vital to living and dynamic art. I also believe that it’s possible to practice criticism and dissent in a spirit that protects what is vulnerable.

I have learned so much about my work and about myself as a writer in this past year.

The stories I’ve written are part of the journey I undertake towards becoming the kind of writer I want to be. To write from a deep place, from a place that recognizes the effects of history but also chooses to envision a place where we are not shackled or tied down by that history–to be liberated in every sense of the word and to become a person who inhabits a world of my own making–we create our own histories and it is to us to decide what kind of record we wish to leave behind.

I am thankful for teachers and guides whose works and whose spirits have accompanied me throughout this year. I am grateful for the work of Audre Lorde, Octavia Butler, Leny Strobel, Barbara Jane Reyes, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Gloria Anzualda–there are so many that I cannot name them all in this one post.

I am still in the process of learning and reaching for more understanding and more knowledge. I do not know everything, but I am grateful for fellow travelers who open my eyes to the realities that I don’t see–I am grateful to you who teach me understanding and love and what it means to be a citizen of the world.

Here’s to a 2015 and the vision of a future that is home to all of us.

Some quotes I’m thinking on

“I use the term Indigenous to refer to the self that has found its place, its home in the world. Emptied of projections of “inferiority”, “third world”, “underdeveloped”, “uncivilized”, “exotic and primitive”, and “modernizing”, it is the self capable of conjuring one’s place and growing roots through the work of imagination, re-framing history, and re-telling the Filipino story that centers our history of resistance, survival and re-generation.”   -Indigenous Filipino Knowledge as defined by Leny M. Strobel-

“Unlike the English word ‘Other’, Kapwa is not used in opposition to the self and does not recognize the self as a separate identity. Rather, Kapwa is the unity of self and others, and hence implies a shared identity or inner self. From this arises the sense of fellow being that underlies Filipino social interaction.” – Leny M. Strobel –

“In the way I experienced Kapwa, I found that people would seek acknowledgement of a shared bond by trying to find a connection that ultimately widened the sphere of the self.”  – Margarita Certeza Garcia, Towards a “Kapwa” Theory of Art, Working towards Wholeness in Contemporary Practice

And then, this Tony Hall quote that I picked up from Nalo Hopkinson’s twitter feed: “The arts are really oxygen for the community, creating breathing space. If we don’t breathe, we die. We need oxygen.”

I am thinking of oxygen–the need to breathe–the need for connections–the need for air and how we need each other in creating space so we can breathe. I’m thinking of community and I am thinking of love. I am thinking of the importance of dialogue and conversation, the necessity of keeping lines and doors open. I am thinking of how this thing is true, that we are always at risk, that we put ourselves constantly at risk. That trust is hard and pain is inevitable.

I remember my Father reminding me that what matters is not how others see me or how others judge me–I remember him saying: “what matters is how you respond to others. Your actions–what you do next–that’s what you’re accountable for.”

It is a risk to remain vulnerable, but if that’s what it takes to help build a stronger community, I’m ready.

Why Are We Here?

RCRuiz:

Dear Friend and fellow revolutionary, Tade Thompson has put up a blog in response to the call for spaces for PoC to express themselves.

Originally posted on SAFE:

Welcome.

Recently, there have been a number of ructions in the SFF community involving PoC. I’m not going to rehash them, but you can look here for some overviews and opinions:

http://laurajmixon.com/2014/11/a-report-on-damage-done-by-one-individual-under-several-names/

http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2014/11/06/may-i-draw-your-attention-to-the-posts-of-elizabeth-bear-laura-j-mixon-and-rochita-loenen-ruiz/

http://www.elizabethbear.com/?p=2506

http://rcloenenruiz.com/2014/11/06/standing-up-and-speaking-truth/

http://www.starshipnivan.com/blog/?p=9077

http://vacuousminx.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/on-pocwoc-as-an-identity-category-its-different-from-the-inside/

It kind of goes on and becomes recursive, especially if you get lost in the comments thread.

In all these discussions one constant refrain has been the lack of PoC-led spaces for discussion and exploration of these matters. I think that’s a fair point.

 ‘Safe’ is a direct response to that.

I’m well-aware that the term PoC is problematic and that there are factions and sub-factions and all kinds of subdivisions. All are welcome provided they come in peace.
My friend Rochita Loenen-Ruiz sent me this excerpt of an essay-in-progress and I think it’s relevant:
“In the Philippines, there is a concept called Bayanihan which involves an entire community moving a house from one place…

View original 330 more words

An open call

I realize that there has been quite a bit of dissatisfaction and discontent going around. I understand that people are fearful at the way they think the narrative is being shaped. I myself am deeply saddened to think that places that are supposed to be safe for me no longer feel safe.

I’m sending out this open call to white kadkadua and to white allies to please give us the time and the space we need to process through this and to create a space where we can share our stories and our feelings. I’m asking folks to respect our need to move at our own pace. We are conversing with each other and we are working towards solutions that work for us.

I and those who stand with me would be thankful if you would allow us the time we need.

Update: A PoC led space has been opened at the SAFE blog. A decision was made to open separate threads for affected PoC and affected non-PoC with an eye towards opening up the space for intersectional discussions. With regards to the RHB situation: in case my position on this has not yet been made clear. Harassment and abuse is harassment and abuse. We can’t do anything more beyond letting people know the truth.  

Our main concern is moving forward. All victims need to be supported and need to be heard regardless of race, creed or gender. Those interested in joining hands together to support victims, and those who are interested in building bridges of support are welcome to join the discussion. 

Standing Up and Speaking Truth

I believe that no one has any right to dictate to me when I should speak, where I should speak or how I should speak on any given subject. I also believe that questioning a person on the choices they make is breach of personhood. In matters pertaining to decisions about one’s profession, that questioning is a clear breach of professionalism. I also want to reiterate that if the work under discussion is a work that I have not read in its completed form, it is not right for me to criticize the work or condemn it.

I write the above because this was at the heart of the conflict that took place between Alex Dally MacFarlane and myself on the 19th of July and it was also this conflict that led to Requires Hate breaking all ties with me.

Alex has spoken in public of a conflict that took place between her and myself over Tricia Sullivan’s book, Shadowboxer. I had clearly stated my position on the work. In separate emails I clearly told both Alex and RH that I had no intention of passing judgment on Shadowboxer. I did not feel it was my place to criticize Shadowboxer on the basis of its Thailand setting as I was not familiar with Thai culture and if any public criticism of this aspect of the work should arise, it should come first from Thai readers.

Because of my position and because I had publicly supported Tricia Sullivan, I was accused of being complicit in racism and transphobia.

Regardless of this accusation, I continue to stand by what I have said. I cannot condemn a work based on a manuscript that has since been rewritten.

I am aware that things have been said about me. I am not sure what has been said and I do not know with how many this conflict has been shared. I had, at first, made a decision not to talk about this conflict as I valued Alex Dally MacFarlane’s work.

Tori Truslow who is one of the Nine Worlds organizers is Alex’s partner and it was clear that she was aware of what had taken place between Alex and me. I did hope that she would keep an objective position on this matter. It will seem illogical to many, but the position Alex and Tori occupied in UK fandom made me anxious and fearful when I went to Nine Worlds.

At that time I was afraid of Alex. I did not know what to expect of her and I did not know what to expect of her partner, Tori. I hoped that the issue could be resolved in a professional manner. At Nine Worlds, Alex gave me the cut and I realized that this issue was not going to be resolved. I later heard that a number of people had been made aware of this conflict. Again, I do not know what was said or how it was framed, but I am now in no doubt as to Alex’s and Tori’s hostility towards me.

How does this all connect to RH?

After the conflict between Alex and myself, I sent RH an email telling her of this and saying that she should feel free to cut ties with me as I had burned bridges with Alex. In response, RH clearly questioned my decisions on my friendships and my refusal to condemn those who had supported me and those who I counted as friends. She then cut off ties with me.

In all our communications, I had always supported RH in her desire to build a career as a writer. I respected her descision to maintain secrecy and her choice to take on a writing pseudonym. I do not know what RH’s real name is. I also do not know Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s real identity. I do know that Benjanun was a persona that RH donned in order to achieve her desire of being a published writer.

After Worldcon, I was aware that something was going on, but not exactly what. There was talk of whisper campaigns, but I paid no attention to that as I did not have the energy to deal with controversies. I do remember Rachel Swirsky asking me about Benjanun’s identity and I told her that if this had already been confirmed by others I did not see why she felt the need to ask me for confirmation.

After that, I was even more sporadic online as we were switching servers and access to the internet was quite spotty.

On the 14th of October, I was surprised to find a message from Nick Mamatas on my blog. He wrote that if I wanted to know what the latest controversy was about, I should get in touch with him. I wasn’t too keen on controversy, so I told him that I didn’t have regular net access but I would get in touch as soon as I could. I was also surprised to find a number of hostile messages from people who told me they were disappointed or disgusted with me.

When I got back online on the 16th of October, I got in touch with Nick Mamatas and asked him what he knew. I told him I had received a number of angry messages and I was confused as I was completely out of the loop. Did he know anything?

I had heard that Benjanun had been outed in public by Nick Mamatas, but Nick told me that Benjanun was spreading the rumor that I was the one who had outed her. I told Nick that this was an untrue accusation. I thanked him for taking the time to ask me about this and tried to think of what I could do.

I will admit that I was quite disheartened. Among the messages I received was one that accused me of sabotaging and destroying Southeast Asian writers. It is an accusation that has no ground in truth. My work has always been directed towards creating more visibility for writers coming from the margins. That these kinds of lies were being fed to the vulnerable is a deed that I consider unconscionable.

It was then that I decided that I couldn’t just wait for things to die down. There was much more at stake than myself. I reached out to people I trusted and decided to write this post.

I’ve heard that Requires Hate a.k.a. Benjanun Sriduangkaew has tendered two apologies and that she has apologized to those who she has harmed. More than two weeks have passed since then, but I have yet to receive an apology for the untruths she spread about me and her attempt to destroy my reputation.

There are those who say that we must forgive and forget and move on, but this is one case where we cannot simply forget. In the time since I learned of the accusations that were being leveled against me, I found out that this was not the first time RH had tried to destroy someone’s reputation. I also found out about her long history of abusive behaviour carried out under a variety of names.

Finding out about the stories of other victims has made me realize that to keep silent would be to do them a great disservice. The incident that took place between Alex, RH and myself was not pleasant, but there are those who have been silenced far longer by fear, there are those who have been ostracized and left out of conversations, there are those who have been shoved aside, dismissed and devalued.

I consider myself very lucky. It is with great thanks to friends and fellow travelers that I am still in the field. It is with thanks, first of all to Elizabeth Bear, that I found the courage to tell my story. It is with thanks to the work of Laura Mixon-Gould that I was able to see that I was not alone and that what happened to me was not a random individual incident. It is with thanks to Nalo Hopkinson’s words that I was able to start healing. It is with thanks to many in this field that I was able to keep hold of hope and belief.

To say that all RH did was to utter words is a complete denial of what we are as writers. Words have power, and words wielded in hatred and violence are just has harmful as violence dealt out with fists.

It is clear to me that RH has made use of her words to create schisms and divisions. She created an atmosphere of distrust and fear. By her actions, she has harmed many who chose to put their trust in her.

I still have no wish to harm RH. However, I do believe that it is only right that people be warned. I don’t doubt that RH has herself been a victim of stalking, but this does not excuse her harmful behavior. That she has tendered her apologies does not mean that she can be so quickly absolved, neither does it mean that we do not need to warn others about her.

I also believe that our duty is first of all to her victims. We need to respect the rights of these victims to a safe space where they can speak out and finally find healing.

**Again to be clear, I am not interested in a blacklisting of RH. The facts speak for themselves. RH has apologized. If writing gives her joy and fulfilment, I think she should continue to do so.

**I do call out Alex Dally MacFarlane for her actions. Social justice is not carried out by tearing down people or passing judgment on others. Social Justice is carried out in public spaces where open and free debate may take place.

**It’s also been pointed out to me that it’s racist for a white person to call out a brown person on how they deal with racism.

 **Comments on this blog are closed. Those who do wish to speak in support of those who have been at the receiving end of RH’s actions may do so at Laura Mixon-Gould’s blog.

quick update

A quick post this time to signal-boost a new anthology series being put out by Aqueduct Press. The Year’s Illustrious Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy is a reprint anthology that’s taking recommendations now. Please follow the links to the recommendation form.

Last week I published a fantastic Process Conversation with Kai Ashante Wilson. Kai is a fellow Butler scholar and I’m very pleased to feature him on the book blog.

Recent incidents have made me think of how important it is to be more mindful as well as vigilant. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing that our work is not valued and that we cannot make a difference, but if we reach out to those who are within our circle, it’s possible to create small movements that lead to wider change. I always want to reach for better and it makes me happy to see people growing into their full potential.

My own work is moving into more challenging arena. I acknowledge that it’s probably not all that accessible to readers who are used to narratives patterned after the dominant paradigm. It’s scary but I’ve always had this belief that if something is meant to be read or shared or published, then it will be regardless.

On a very surprised note, my father said to me this week that Song of the Body Cartographer is his most favorite of all the work that I’ve done. It was so not the story I expected him to praise. I am pleasantly surprised and feeling very encouraged as well.

My heart: Your heart: Our words

The past few months have been very stressful and difficult months for me. Not only because I had to deal with health issues, but also because I could feel hostility from places that I had once considered safe. Friends who I had trusted chose to question me. People who I believed in turned their backs on me and left my side. It is only natural to feel pain when these things happen.

My first reaction is to defend myself in anger. To tell the world that I am not guilty and it is those who have chosen to throw my name out into the open who are to be blamed. I had, in fact, already written such a post.

But I am also deeply aware of what goes on in my heart, and I am thankful for the friends who lift me up and remove me from that place that demands vengeance and justification. People have questioned my friendship with certain white people and made this a reason to pass judgment on me.

I want to say: It is easy for us to pass judgment on others. If we hear a story on the wind that seems to contain the smallest kernel of truth, we are liable to think: Oh, it must be true.

But in the course of my journey, I have arrived at this point where I choose not to judge on hearsay. I choose not to judge on what has been reported to me or what the wind brings to my ears. Rather than passing judgment, I choose to know and to believe with my heart.

I think that brown women from third world nations understand what it is like to be judged. We know what it’s like to be judged by the color of our skin, by the country we come from, by the way we speak, by the way we act and even by what we carry on our persons.

It is because I know exactly what it’s like to be judged because I am a dark skinned Filipino that I choose not to judge people by the color of their skins. It is because I know what it’s like to be shut out of conversations that I choose to include others in my conversations.

If you are reading this post, I want to ask you to examine yourself and to examine your own heart. To examine ourselves and to own the truth about ourselves is not weakness.

When I was still a child, I became aware of the power that rests in words and how it was possible to use words to move people either to tears or to anger—to love or to hate. I also became aware how by using words in a certain way, it is possible to sway people and to make them see my side of things as being the only right side in any conflict.

Today, more than then, I am very much aware how words wielded with cruelty and powered by malice have the capacity to destroy the person on the receiving end of those words. So, when I see people excusing words wielded cruelly as being just words, I cannot help but wonder if they truly understand just how a word in the hands of the wielder can break a spirit or strengthen it—how words can bind us together or tear us apart.

I know exactly what it’s like to be at the receiving end of words meant to make you feel so small that you want nothing more than to crawl away and vanish from the face of the earth. For this reason, I do not wish to wield words in that way. I do not wish to use my words to destroy, to belittle, or to question the humanity and the heart of others.

I have been judged for many things. Among these things, I have been judged for my choice to remain friends with people others deem as not being the “right sort” of people.

But you see, in the time since I started my decolonization journey I have changed from the person I was. I see with different eyes and I look with different eyes at people. I have been called naive for my choice to continue to trust and believe in the goodness that rests in the hearts of white people. But this is my choice. Just as it is my choice to believe in the goodness that rests in all of our hearts. I choose not to see myself as being of more worth than a white person but rather, I choose to see myself as being of equal worth.

We are all prone to failure. If I distance myself because people fail, I would be left standing alone—bereft of family, without a single friend.

It is because I see and acknowledge my own flaws that I can see clearly the flaws of those I love and love them still. I know what it’s like to be judged, so I choose not to judge. Instead, I choose to welcome those who welcome me. I choose to see the good in the hearts of those who see the good in me.

It doesn’t mean that I no longer see injustices or that I am not angry about them. I am still angry and I am still capable of great rage—but when it comes to people, I choose not to dwell in anger, I choose not to dwell in hate.

Ask yourself this question: how do you choose to wield your words and who do you destroy when you choose to tear down and destroy the other?

Adding this note as it has been pointed out to me that my post could be misread on certain things. So to make things clear:

(1) I do not condone any abusive behavior towards anyone.

(2) I am not aware of and I do not condone whisper attempts or any attempts to blacklist or blackball any writers.